You haven't lived until you've been disconnected...

Source // Wikipedia

It was inevitable that somewhere, somehow, gaming would be done over networks with players in other places. Upon reading that it was MUD that got this notion off the ground - a text adventure capable of multiple user interactions - I thought 'well, this write up won't be based on me playing it then'.

How wrong I was. 35 years later, MUD is still playable, and people are still playing. That's got to be worth a look.


(For those not in the know, MUD was the first incarnation of a MUD, and so MUD is often referred to as MUD1 to separate the game Multi-User Dungeon from the genre Multi-User Dungeon. Got it? It doesn't matter, I'll use them both incorrectly, I'm sure.)

I eventually find myself a Mac MUD client called Savitar, allowing me to connect to a variety of hosts all with their own MUD offerings. The most common error I come across is a simple disconnect. Luckily, that usually happened when I was reading the intro paragraphs before creating a character, but after just a few of them, it's time to try another host for some more luck.

Fun Times

Being the true professional I am, I click blindly until I have some success and land in Alter Aeon, with a newb friendly intro to character creation and a short hand holding tutorial to get you into the swing of things.

So it's a text adventure, as is obvious, with your usual cardinal direction choices, your 'attack', 'loot', 'talk' commands, your simple starting quest and so on. Anyone familiar with text adventures will be familiar with MUD, although this one has a faster pace than what I've seen so far.

It also has the inclusion of other players, such is the whole point of a Multi-User Dungeon.

I didn't interact with them. The speed at which the text came towards me, the way the other players were merged into my text stream, I was struggling to remember where I was when swapping between player chat and adventure blurb.

Luckily though, this particular MUD seems to play itself. I walk into a new location, get attacked, automatically defend myself to the point of killing my opposition, and by the time the text stopped flying in and I've got a chance to read it, I find that I've killed the target of my first quest.

I was tasked with finding and killing a shaman. He was dead - by my own hand - before I even realised I was in the same location as the shaman. I'm not playing this game, I'm watching it. This isn't the birth of online multiplayer, it's the birth of press X to win.

Source // Alter Aeon

Final Word

But that's a tad harsh, isn't it? After all, I stumbled into everything, I had my hand held through encounters, I had few choices to make, none of them hard, and the only other people I saw were asleep or weren't trying to kill me.

Upon closing the client because I wasn't really playing it, I hit up Alter Aeon to see what it was all about, and found that they have their own MUD client, looking rather more modern and useful to the current audience.

I might have had an entirely different experience had I found their website before I found their server, or were playing on a different platform, or had fully interacted with these other users.

MUD as a concept though was an important step for games to make, and we're all thankful for it, even if we can't stand text adventures. There are plenty of ways to play (useful if you can't connect to some of them) three decades after the first pioneers did so, and I'd imagine some will still be around throughout the next three decades. MUD has a life, should you be willing to invest in it.

Fun Facts

The goal in MUD is to achieve the rank of Wizard, which was tricky when the server was only available to guests in the very early hours of the morning.

MUD/MUD1, developed by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle, released 1980.
Version played: Alter Aeon, via Savitar.